So I promised to share images of the finished white on black embroidery portrait I recently completed of Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan. Here it is framed at last, after around 25 hours worth of stitching. Initially I considered a white frame in this kitsch style, but the oval inlay in this black one won out and works as a nod to Billy’s ‘Zero’ motif.
This work was a strange little personal journey for me. I’ve chosen to title this piece ‘Adore’,in reference to the album (this image is based on publicity shots from) and for the notions of gothic romance that Billy so eloquently embodies. Adore holds some sad memories for me of a difficult time in my youth. A time where I felt lost. And the music is so melancholy it made it even harder to revisit. But having felt lost for some time, I ‘ve found myself listening to this record on repeat and finding comfort in it. It’s helped me reclaim old parts of myself that were lost.
I’ve been rediscovering my love of things gothic recently. Billy was a pixie perfect Nosferatu (just check out his performance in this video- click the image above!) Adore is this tragic gem full of lullabies and Poe-like laments . The lyrics of Behold the NightMare for example are a melting pot of gothic Victoriana, conjuring images of courtly love, dead mistresses and galloping phantoms: “ I can’t go on digging roses from your grave, to linger on beyond the beyond, where the willows weep, and whirlpools sleep, and the Night Mare rides on…” Of all the music I listened to growing up the Smashing Pumpkins were far and away the most romantic. Something I’ve only come to value now, and “could a taste of love be so wrong?”
So many of the Smashing Pumpkins songs speak to me right now. Like Tonight Tonight, at one time ubiquitous but I never really paid attention to the words. Legend has it Billy wrote the song in as affirmation to his former self, it’s a little like a rallying cry. And of course, I love the video, a nod to early silent cinema and science fiction like HG Wells first men on the moon. (Do click on the image above to watch the video. It’s a beautiful song.)
‘Adore’, my portrait of Billy Corgan is a work of embroidery as a meditation. On the value of Love, all kinds, but especially of romantic and self-love. It is a little work of adoration. A reminder to cherish. And perhaps too a reminder of courage, of one’s convictions; both of truth to self and your right to change.
I’d love to hear what you think of this portrait. It’s a very different experience stitching light onto dark. If you haven’t already, you can read all about the working process and see my almost ‘time lapse’ gif here.
If you’d like to see some high res images I posted a couple more pics of the finished piece in my flicker gallery here